Martin Stern serves both as the Firm’s Appellate Team Leader and Claims Counsel, essentially acting as the Firm’s General Counsel. In addition to his appellate practice, Martin has an extensive background in complex litigation, particularly class actions. Martin also has substantial experience in legal ethics, having represented judges before the Louisiana State Judiciary Commission, as well as lawyers before the Louisiana State Disciplinary Board, for which he formerly served as Hearing Committee Chair.
Martin is among the first group of lawyers, only six statewide, who, in January, 2017, were certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization as Appellate Practice Specialists. Martin’s appellate practice is deep and varied, ranging from representing a major oil-and-gas company in the appeal of a $1 billion punitive damage award to representing a defendant sentenced to death, both of which resulted in grants of certiorari by the United States Supreme Court. The latter, Kennedy v. Louisiana, announced the landmark holding that the death penalty is unconstitutional for most non-homicide crimes.More recently, Martin argued Caldwell v. Janssen Pharmaceutical, winning reversal of a $337 million award from the Louisiana Supreme Court in its first case on the Medical Assistance Program Integrity Law (“MAPIL”), frequently invoked by the Louisiana Attorney General against pharmaceutical companies. Martin had earlier represented a major tobacco company in another high-profile suit brought by the Louisiana Attorney General. Most recently, Martin argued the appeal of the single largest personal-injury award in Louisiana history.
At the trial court level, Martin led the successful effort to defeat class certification of thousands of individuals claiming exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material (“NORM”), and then won affirmance of that decision on appeal. He also argued and won critical motions to dismiss on behalf of nearly 100 oil and gas companies in two separate high-profile cases in which plaintiffs—first, a putative class action, and second, a governmental entity—argued that defendants were liable for coastal erosion and, therefore, billions of dollars in damages. The latter was the subject of a New York Times Magazine article, “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever.”
One of Martin’s passions is his pro bono work. He is past director of both national and Louisiana Appleseed, a non-profit organization that attacks injustice at its root cause—what The American Lawyer called “pro bono’s new frontier.” Martin received national Appleseed’s Evelyn Singer Award and was named to “Leadership in Law” by New Orleans CityBusiness for spearheading the reestablishment of Louisiana Appleseed after Hurricane Katrina. In 2016, Martin received Louisiana Appleseed’s Good Apple Award and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Catherine D. Kimball Award for a project culminating in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s adoption of a rule that allows lawyers to earn CLE credit for pro bono representation. Most recently, Martin worked with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to develop a project to provide pro bono representation on immigration appeals.